Published Feb 10, 2016In a culture so heavily invested in fulfillment and excess, most of us don't spend enough time exploring the inherent loveliness of lacking. So many great love stories are founded on and defined by an intense period of yearning, sometimes one that is never resolved: lovers separated by circumstance, or heroes exiled from their homeland. There is a great narrative pressure to resolve this kind of tension, and it's increasingly rare for authors and other artists to sustain it, but with Landless, Portland-based trio Eight Bells have created a veritable monument to yearning.
Their debut record, the wonderfully heavy and bruising The Captain's Daughter, was a delicious exploration of catharsis via a beating; Landless is about endurance, patience and the delicious awfulness of a frustrating wait. The blackened death harshness on the title track never fully manages to resolve itself into the intensity that the listener craves — it pulls back, gentles and dissipates. "Hold My Breath" is an exquisite exploration of holding back, holding fast and refusing to give in, all urgency and uneven, frantic tension.
Rae Amitay's (Thrawsunblat, Immortal Bird) drumming has a wonderful unhinged quality, making every track feel like it's about to shake itself apart but barely managing to hold on by its fingernails. This is often set in wonderful contrast with the intelligent, subtle guitar constructions and the tauntingly gentle duelling vocals of Melynda Jackson and Haley Westeiner.
That Landless never gives you all that you want and never lets you off the hook for a second is central to its breathless, imbalanced genius. It's a shore you can never quite reach, where you know your lover is waiting. (Battleground Records)